The forecast [for Black Friday] is more than four times what we normally do, said an anonymous inside source from Apple. We broke the forecast by 7 p.m.
Apple was the fifth-most visited online retail store on Black Friday, behind Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target. There have been no reports on how many people visited its 357 retail stores and Apple has not released exact figures for individual categories, but inside sources say the entry-level 11.6-inch MacBook Air sales sold particularly well. Apple offered a 10 percent discount of $101 for MacBook Air, and a similar savings for MacBook Pro and iMac this year.
As advertised earlier in the week, Apple discounted a number of its bestselling mobile devices on Black Friday. The iPad 2, which reportedly sold more than 32.4 million units in Apple's fiscal year ended Sept. 24, sold for $458, a discount of $41 from the original $499 price. iPod Touch sold for $178, down from $199, and iPod Nano sold for $118, a reduction of only $11 from the original price.
While the discounts were far from extraordinary, Apple offered free shipping for all its products, as well as free engravings on the back of its iOS devices. Coupled with the fact that Apple rarely doles out discounts, consumers jumped at a chance to own Apple's stylish devices.
Apple didn't extend its Black Friday deals to Cyber Monday, Nov. 28, but the company continues to offer free shipping on all of its products purchased from its online store.
Black Friday was a particularly hot day for online shopping. ComScore reported Black Friday exceeded $816 million in online sales, a 26 percent bump over last year. IBM believes the growth of online shopping on Black Friday suggests that shoppers took to the Internet to avoid the in-store crowds.
Dialogue around Black Friday was a big contributing factor to the increase in sales. IBM's study suggested that shoppers referred from social networks generated a spike in positive sentiment, and the volume of messages about Black Friday and Cyber Monday was about 110 percent higher than last year. Shoppers shared tips on how to avoid the rush to the stores, out-of-stock concerns, and parking and waiting time issues.
Mobile devices drove most of this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday business, accounting for 14.3 percent of all online Black Friday traffic and 9.8 percent of all online purchases. Reports found the iPad was the clear leader in mobile device sales, with conversion rates hovering around 4.6 percent. iPad sales per hour jumped 68 percent from last year, and analysts believe Apple is still on track to sell 13.5 million iPads in the December quarter.
Apple's new iPhone model, the 4S, was also a big target on many shopping lists. Despite no discount on the phone, 75 percent of Apple Stores sold out of the new iPhone 4S on Black Friday. AT&T reportedly sold out of the phone at about 50 percent of its stores over the weekend, and stock-outs occurred nationwide at Verizon Wireless stores. Sprint reportedly had a large stockpile of phones to accommodate the high demand.
Apple shares rose nearly 3 percent to $372.91 in early trading.